Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Would it be too much to ask for everyone to never discuss the new Harry Potter book? Ever?

Sunday--just a little past 12 noon.

One--I completed the report I should have turned in four days ago and did the chores I'd been white-eyeing for over a week.

Two--I was clean and dressed by 11:45--a weekend personal best for me (for although I will wake for the crack o' dawn, I refuse to get dressed up for it).

Three--I had already spent most of Saturday working my way through multiple episodes of TiVo'ed CSI: Miami and several assorted Netflix movies. It was an exhausting, grueling workout, but Muffin Uptown was there to tag-team it with me, and I no longer had hours of television hanging over my head.

Four--A quick scrambled-egg sandwich and I was finally ready to devote the entire afternoon to Harry Potter.

I was only on page 115 (never in mundane jane history have I taken so long to masticate a book), everyone else I knew had already finished it, and they were falling all over themselves to let something slip. Finally--nothing was standing between me and the conclusion of the saga of Harry Potter.

I fell asleep over page 121. For two and a half hours.

I'm going to have to hire someone to finish this book for me.

photo, © Jenny Rollo

Monday, July 30, 2007

Creature comforts.

The Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Chicago is one of those hotels that feature super fabulous, soft and comfy beds that--provided you are made outta money--you can buy for your bedroom at home. And it must be said, I slept better in Chicago than I have since little Ms. Min A. Pause started sleeping over at my house.

Once I got home, though, I was tired enough to sleep on a pile of rocks. And maybe I did for the first night--I couldn't tell you, seeing as how I slept right through it.

But the second night, I definitely noticed something off--something decidedly not right.

Apparently, someone done did somethin' uncalled-for to my bed pillows.

They were all flat and lumpy and--well, hard. Unforgiving. Not comfortable at all. And while mine weren't new pillows, they were the self-same pillows that seemed to be functioning properly before I left the state. I didn't believe these to be the same pillows I was sleeping on before my excursion through America's heartland, though, because sleeping on those pillows night after night would have caused me to lose my mind.

I concluded that while Muffin Uptown had performed capably in caring for my plants and pets, I'd neglected to leave instructions for the pillows. Whether due to old age or neglect, my pillows were deceased.

By Wednesday, thoughts of the pillows I'd slept on back in Chicago kept coming, unbidden, to my mind when I should have been thinking of tormenting writers and garbling instructional copy. I hurried to the interweb and discovered that I could have four of those special Hyatt down and feather pillows shipped to my door in time for the weekend for a mere $69.00/each.

Like that was going to happen.

If you know me, you know I'm wanting something pretty damn bad to drive into town and deal with actual people to make a purchase. But that's exactly what I did--because $276.00 will buy a lot of drive-through tacos and Diet Coke. 45 minutes of rolling around on every pillow at TJ Maxx yeilded four $15.00 pillows that were, to my head, indistinguishable from the more expensive version.

And surely I'll sleep better knowing that I didn't spend almost $300 on four sacks of goose feathers that will up and die on me when I least expect it.
photo, Rodolfo Clix (no, really.)

Friday, July 27, 2007

I'm sorry I'm late. I couldn't find my bag.

On Wednesday, I threw out a comment in a meeting and my boss stopped and asked me how long I had been sitting there thinking that one up.

Coming up with an answer took considerably longer than the comment that prompted the question. At least, it felt like I was just sitting there blinking at her for the longest time while I tried to process a response.

Part of the problem with answering her question was that I couldn't tell if the subtext was, "that was very funny, I'm impressed with your quick thinking," or "shut your piehole, we're trying to make money here." Most likely, she meant something completely different.

Like, "What's wrong with you?"

And that would be a fair question. Because I never know what the hell anybody is talking about. Ever. This, in spite of the fact that a great deal of the time, I know what they are going to say before they say it.

How can it be possible for me to know your response ahead of time, but fail to understand the meaning of said response once it is articulated? I have absolutely no idea. But I knew this was a question you were formulating as you read the previous paragraph. See how scary that is? And that's why I so often have that goofy, vacant look on my face as I listen to you. It looks like I'm mentally compiling my shopping list, but I am actually trying to translate the words coming out of your mouth into something that has something to do with me.

Other times, I will answer a yes or no question before it has been completely asked. Some people who know me are very impressed by this; others just think that it's a good trick that works 50% of the time. In reality, I really do know what people are going to say, but because they are obstinate, they don't say what they know I know they were going to say.

I don't know why some people have to be so difficult.

photo, Sean Kearney

How can it already be the last Friday of the month?

It's printer day again, and I'm on deadline.

Which means I'm late with my post, and subject to untold harassment from certain quarters (you know who you are).

But I will be posting later today.

I just need a few hours to make a living. Then I'll grab a couple band-aids and drink a celebratory beer, and I can be funny again.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

It's my own fault--I'm the one who felt compelled to discuss the hairs on my legs in front of people I don't even know.

My friend Carol made a special delivery to my house Tuesday evening. She and Tawana are either so very taken with the Gillette Fusion razor that they can't wait to convert the world, or they have had a special palaver in which they came up with a solution to the the sorry state of my stubbly knees.

Carol presented me with a razor that filled me with equal parts awe and fear. I was astounded that refill blades for this razor will cost a whopping $23.00 for a package of 8.

And I was terrified because it has 5 blades.

I have always been a samurai shaver--8 quick swipes and a tourniquet and I'm out the door. So I was quite sure that my very first attempt at shaving with a 5-bladed razor wouldn't leave enough meat on me to make a decent sandwich.

And while Carol and Tawana may have plenty of time for a trip to the emergency room for sutures and a booster tetanus shot, I am an important, busy, publishing professional. I have copy to mark all over and instructions to mangle; I don't have time to get my shins sewn back on. There and then, I decided I would continue to shave with my $1.95 razor while telling my friends that yes, I really enjoyed the expensive, potentially lethal razor very much. It's not like either one of them is in a position to know the difference.

But Wednesday morning, my blind groping in the closet yielded a pair of those knee-length shorts that masquerade as slacks. A shave would be required. I reached for my usual razor.

And then I had a thought. What if I tried the fancy new razor and what if it really was wonderful?

So I did. And it was.

My calf was so pleased that I shaved the knee. And then I shaved the other one. Then I shaved behind my knees. And what do you know? It turns out that even the cagiest of hairs can't hide from 5 separate blades.

I was so thrilled. I kept shaving until I had shaved as far as possible. I don't believe possible has been shaved since 1987. To paraphrase the poem, my legs are as smooth and hairless as an egg. I can't wait to shave again.

As a matter of fact, I think I will go and find the cat.
photo, Jyn Meyer

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The last post about Chicago and no, I didn't wait in line to see Oprah.

The last time I was in Chicago, I didn't have the opportunity to visit any of the blues clubs. I was very disappointed.

I did, however, ride every color line of the El trying to get to Frank Lloyd Wright's house. I found that you can get a very good feel for Chicago on the El. Chicago is very large. And in July, it is very hot. I got that.

This year, my brother Butch and his practically-perfect-in-every-way girlfriend Tara drove over from Ann Arbor to take me out to see the city. Butch lived in the area a few years back, and knows all the best places to go. But best places be damned; I only wanted to (1) try and catch a glimpse of Ira Glass, and (2) go to Buddy Guy's club.

It was easy enough to find the studios of WBEZ (in Chicago--I can't say the call letters without the in Chicago part), but of course, Ira wasn't there. He was, no doubt, spending Saturday evening with his wife (insert eyeroll, here). At the time, I didn't think to photograph the deserted studio, because really, who would want to see it? Turns out, I think you do. So for your edification, I offer this photo taken by Steve Rhodes. Same diff--it really does look just like this, I swear. They could be figuring income taxes in there for all anybody can tell. It certainly doesn't look like the workplace of a media icon. (Oh, Ira--can you hear the reverence in my voice?)

The shot of the sign outside Buddy Guy's Legends bar is mine, though. Buddy Guy was not there, but Jimmy Johnson was. We had some very good Cajun soul food, some very cold beer, and heard some very fine music. After that, we enjoyed a very harrowing cab ride back to the hotel. Apparently, at my age it is not possible to drink so much beer that a reckless cabdriver does not scare me to pieces.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The view from the coach car and what that has to do with food and the single girl.

We grow a lot of corn in this country. You may think you know this already, but until you've watched it roll by your window, hour after hour, you really have no clear idea. I found myself thinking that somebody better be turning a lot of it into alternative fuel, because if we're eating every bit of it, we are all going to turn into cows.

I admit to eating my share while on the train; there was a lot of serious snacking mixed in with all the reading and and all the sleeping. As a matter of fact, I've since shaken almost as much cheese flavored popcorn from my hair as was consumed, and have been finding it, Hansel-and-Gretel style, all through the house.

And I hate that I'm making such a mess. Muffin Uptown was been house- and pet-sitting for me while I was gone, and she's left everything in such perfect shape that one would never know I'd been away. It's all just as I left it, with one small the exception.

There's food in my house.

I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm afraid I'm going to have to cook something. So much of what she's left here has to be prepared in some way before it can be eaten. I just left the refrigerator (where I was cooling my head) and while I was standing there, I counted 12 fresh eggs.

What in God's name am I going to do with 12 eggs? That's 6 batches of Duncan Hines' brownies, 6 Betty Crocker German Chocolate cake mixes, or 4 suppers of egg salad and olive sandwiches. In my experience, those are the only reasons to have fresh eggs in the refrigerator.

And that's not the worst of it. There are squash and zucchini in the crisper. There are tomatoes, fresh spinach, 3 kinds of cheese, grapes, bacon (oh my God!), half a cantaloupe, apples, and--well, you get the idea.

I don't even really have time to be blogging right now; I have to get busy. That's just the way it goes, when you have children. Here I am, having just returned from a long business trip, and my tired ass has to set about eating a great many fruits and vegetables right away.

You can be sure that as soon as I see her again, I'm going to have a serious talk with Ms. Uptown about her eating habits. Doesn't she know that somebody has to be in charge of eating all the corn that this great nation is growing?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Riding the Rails. Part two.

As I mentioned earlier, the Texas Eagle on which I was riding achieved a personal best by pulling into Chicago's Union Station a mere 4 hours later than scheduled.

I have friends who have taken this same train to Chicago many times. And to be fair, they all advised me to be prepared to wait--at the station, on the tracks, on the tracks, and on the tracks. I slept through a great deal of the waiting, so I wasn't aware how late we were until I noticed that we just didn't appear to be nearing Chicago. At all.

Apparently, the body's natural response to such extended rail time mirrors the SciFi suspended animation used to travel light-years between planets. The man across the aisle from me either slept, slack jawed in his seat for 14 hours straight, or he was dead. I hope someone from Amtrak checked on him; I myself was too drowsy to investigate.

At the CHA show, I flat-out refused to tell a co-worker how many hours I had spent getting there on the train; it was plain to see that she had her mouth all set to make fun of me. And it's true--I spent a lot of time this week looking out the window at a part of the country I have absolutely zero curiosity about (more on that later), but I didn't have to pharmaceutically lobotomize myself to do it. Once I finally did arrive, I barely noticed the planes buzzing the hotel as they swooped in to land; this time last year, I was working myself into a frazzle with the sound of every jet engine.

And even my fearless flyer friends gotta know, there are worse things than being forced to sit and read for hours. And nap. For hours.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Take a right at the scrapbook booth--no wait, the other scrapbook booth--no, not THAT one, that OTHER one...

I wouldn't really feel justified in lugging my laptop and 45-pound-case through America's heartland unless I made this quick post to tell you about a couple of things that piqued my interest at the CHA Show on Saturday. I'll prepare the official report for my bosses later--you know, what's burning hot and bright, what's over-over-over, and what to watch for next. The CHA show is a good place to get a feel for all three. But for you, I've got two of my personal favs:

two smart dogs
Jennifer Hinshaw and Judy Hopelain

I visited for a couple of minutes with Jennifer and Judy on Saturday, who took the time to explain the concept of two smart dogs. It's simple; they're all about helping folks learn something new-- facilitators, if you will. They connect those of us who are looking for classes to learn to do--well, whatever, with the very people who offer those classes. It's new-new-new, and you can help by signing up to participate in their beta test here.

images property of two smart dogs.

Allison and Tracy Stilwell

Okay, for this post, I'm just going to tell you about these folks, send you out looking for them, and maybe help them make a little money. What I really want to do is get back to my home computer and post about their blog. I stopped by the Artgirlz booth because someone from my company put me onto them (knowing that I would appreciate the aesthetic these girls have going on).

Allison and Tracy are artists and sisters who have come up with a unique (and that's saying something) line of collage kits that include hand-made paper, tags, beads, yarn, hand-painted fabric, and wool felt. They also have a cool collection of tiny little pewter charms and all manner of felted balls. It's the altered art look that I know scrapbookers are crazy for.

But here's how I know I've made a good call on this one (and why you can look forward to a review of their blog later in the week). I was giving their site and blog the once-over in preparation for this post and spotted some phrasing that convinced me that I was meant to be these girls' next best friend. Witness this sentence from their Web site bios:

"Practicing truth and gratitude, and snacking for strength, they continue down
the path of a somewhat remarkable and very full life."

Obviously, we were destined to meet.

Image property of Artgirlz

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Dude. I need a Coke and a smile. Now.

Kenny Loggins believes in love, Cher believes in life after love, Public Enemy don't believe the hype, and apparently, Illinois doesn't believe in Coca-Cola.

This is a problem.

As many of you know, I am visiting Chicago to attend the Craft and Hobby Association Trade show. The last time I was here, I missed my Diet Coke so much that when I finally got back home, someone was able to make me happy just by giving me a Diet Pepsi and calling it Diet Coke.

I've been drinking Pepsi since boarding the train on Thursday. Amtrak counts them pretty dear, and so does the hotel. So, today, I spent $4.00 for a 20 oz soda I didn't even want.

My friend Cheryl of Material World fame arrived today with a partially-consumed Diet Coke in her purse. She's jokingly offered to sell it to me for the bargain price of $3.50. I've got news for her. I'm going to wait until she lets down her guard, and then I'm going to wrestle her for it.

I'm pretty sure I can take her.
photo, Gabi Rosca

Friday, July 20, 2007

What I did on my summer vacation.

School is still out. Having the buses off the roads may be nice, but if you have school-aged people in your house, you may be anxiously counting the days until school starts again. As I remember, the short ones are fairly easily managed. It's the older ones who sleep most of the day (waking only to watch Golden Girls, destroy your kitchen making grilled cheese sandwiches, and then IM each other until the threat of dawn) who pose the real challenge.

If you live with these people (and don't have a cool trip to Chicago to escape to) I am gifting you with these links to some cool paper toys you can make while avoiding them.

Find lots of downloadable toys that spin, dip, whirl and pop at Flying Pig.

At John Watson's Flicker Toys you can make a cool ID badge, or turn your flickr pics into a movie poster, magazine cover, or billboard.

Explore the Art and Craft of Toy Design at Parson's New School of Design and download Brietta's Paper Penguin Toy.

Practice your graffiti on a blank paper train at papercraft world.

And the toymaker. Still my favorite.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Riding the rails.

As it turns out, the train I took to Chicago yesterday has a history of running late. I believe, however, that they may have broken a record on this particular run, arriving at our destination over 4 hours later than scheduled.

I am happy to report that arriving boned tired, four hours later than planned, and smelling like a laundry hamper is preferable (to me) to the days of fear and dread that would have preceded another plane trip.

I do have stories to tell--as soon as I've had a couple hours to recuperate.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

As alike as...well, you know.

I've often heard people say, "I know my own mind." That must be nice; most of the time, I can't even be sure that my mind and I have ever even met.

Fifteen minutes after I've written a sentence, I've forgotten it. That's not a good place to be in if you've forgotten to hit the save button. But the upside of this unfamiliarity with my own process means that I can come back to something after a couple hours and read it as though it were brand new to me--as though it were written by someone else. Sometimes, I will read a sentence and think, "Who wrote that?"

Which leads me to my greatest fear.

If I forget my own writing after so short a time, you can imagine how long I am able to retain something I've read that actually was written by someone else. So, what if I were to read something one day, forget I'd ever seen it, and then a year or two down the road write something really clever and humorous, and then discover--horrors!--that I've inadvertently used someone else's words!

Which is exactly how I felt last night as I rewatched a David Letterman interview with Ira Glass, in which Ira told a story that referenced an underground railroad for chickens. From April.

I'm sorry, Ira. Can I still be your girlfriend?

Leaving on the Midnight Train.

I am off on an adventure--taking the train to Chicago to attend the CHA Show. Those of you who will be there, please look for me.

For those left at home, I will be posting.

Surely, someone between here and Union Station will do something I can't wait to tell you about. At least, I hope so.*

*Never fear. I'm not above making something up.

photo by Andrew Dunn

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Very, very tricky.

Most of the time, no matter where I am or what I'm doing, I feel like I'm in the wrong place, doing the wrong thing.

When I'm playing, I feel as though I should instead be working; when I'm working, I should be with my family. And when I'm napping? Well, there's a whole contingent of people with ideas for what I should be doing instead of sleeping smack dab in the middle of the day.

All of which has started me wondering--shouldn't I be able to loosen the reins a bit by now, slow down, maybe breathe just a little easier?

There are no more cupcakes to be baked before Friday homeroom, no more violin recitals to watch or football game halftime shows to shiver through. My scissors (all three pair) are right where I left them.

I'm not the girl answering the phones and making coffee anymore. (Well, I still have to make the coffee.) But at least I'm no longer scratching out a living from the bottom of the org chart. And while there's never going to be a day when I can just wave my hand over my paid job and pronounce my work "Good enough," at least I've reached the point where worrying about doing it well enough isn't keeping me up at night.

So, why all the urgency?

I think I answered my own question while parked in the drive-through line to pick up a gross of tacos. As I waited, I watched a young man pace up and down the other side of the road, half-heartedly waiving a PIZZA-PIZZA sign at passing traffic. His heart wasn't in it; how could it be?

The sight of this kid who might finish his shift but never his task made me realize that I am very probably my own undoing. For me, there is no bigger rush than typing that closing sentence, snipping that thread end, drying that final glistening glass, or painting that last expanse of empty surface.

After a lifetime of telling myself that I will relax and have some fun after the last chore is complete, I've realized that for me, the thrill is in finishing the chore. I'm having the most fun I will have all day while I am getting things out of the way so I can have a little fun.

Egad. I'm ruined.

Monday, July 16, 2007

You can't always get what you want.

Even though I wasn't born into the digital age, I've embraced it pretty wholeheartedly.

If it can be done quicker and easier via the interweb, I'm all about it. "Quick, what else did that guy star in?" "What are the words to the second verse of that song?" "What the cornbread hell was that movie, Donnie Darko, about?"

I can see commando shots of Britney Spears (not that I would want to) or a video replay of John Stewart bitch-slapping Tucker Carlson on Crossfire (who wouldn't want to?). I can avoid embarrassing myself by confusing eg and ie, and remind myself for about the hundredth time of the principle of Occam's Razor (this latter is one of those things that just won't stick, no matter how many times I look it up).

So where on the internet are they hiding the REALLY important things?

  • I bought these shoes at the GAP in New Mexico a few years ago. They are still my favorite warm-weather shoes; I think they make my feet look fabulous*. (There aren't that many things that make the individual parts of my body look fabulous these days.) Nobody anywhere makes anything remotely like them--even though, if they could be had, I would pay a month's salary for a pair. Perhaps you're thinking of writing to gently let me know that if I can't find them anywhere, they must be hopelessly out of style. Don't fret. I plan to get in front of the trend when they come back.

  • Every third middle-aged woman I know has a cellphone ringtone of "SexyBack." So, why can't I find and download a ringtone of the Morning Edition, All Things Considered, or Fresh Air theme song? Does this mean that more women of my age are listening to Justin Timberlake than NPR?

  • Gap stopped making their Grass scent in 1998 or 1999. 8-year-old bottles of this stuff can be had on ebay for about $100.00. I don't want to pay $100.00 for 8-year-old anything. Surely, somebody, somewhere makes something that smells like this stuff used to smell (like snap peas with a hint of kiwi). Maybe so, but I can't find it on the Web.
  • Pea Pod Liquid Hand Soap. Same story, probably because it reminded me of the Grass cologne. Nobody has it.
  • A recording of I Cover the Waterfront as performed by Rich Dworsky and Andy Stein on the April 11, 1998 episode of Prairie Home Companion. Unequivocally the most beautiful rendition of any piece of popular music I've ever heard in my life. And I got to hear it only once. How can that be right?
* You might be thinking that my feet do not look fabulous in this photograph--that they look, instead, like old lady feet. You should know that my feet were not keen on having their photo taken, as they had not had sufficient time to prepare. I've been assured that if I would like to take their picture again on a good day (perhaps after a little time at the spa), that my feet are prepared to knock everybody out with their fabulousness.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Hot. In all the wrong ways.

4 sale.

One slightly used, mildly irregular hypothalamus. The perfect gift for television newscasters, newspaper delivery persons, professional bakers--anyone who needs to awaken between 2:30 and 3am without disturbing his or her sleeping partner with an audible alarm (provided such partner is not bothered by sudden blasts of furnace-intensity heat or sodden bed linens). Handy for those residing in colder climes or who work in offices that embrace the arctic aesthetic.

Friday, July 13, 2007

It didn't seem that long ago--until just this minute.

Today, me and Butch walked to the grocery store for a coke,
‘cause we were hot but didn’t have enough money for the pool.
We were picking up bottles in the highway ditch –
they’re worth two cents each at the store –
and Mama let us have the six empties
from a carton she drank last week.
Picking up bottles is hard work and we have to be careful
cause the big trucks go by fast
and don’t always pay attention to who’s walking alongside.
It’s best if we leave the little kids at home –
they slow us down,
and get up too close to the road,
and are always picking up beer bottles,
which aren’t worth anything at all.
Missus McAllister passed us,
driving slow with the windows rolled up tight.
She looked just like one of the mannequins in
the window down at Snow’s,
with her hair fixed just so and wearing those mod sunglasses
she bought in San Diego last year.
I just knew that the inside of her car
was so cool that just being in there would knock a person right out –
like a poison dart from a Pygmy blowgun.
(If I had one of those blowguns, I could
shoot that nasty Janet Miller –
I’d like to see that big fat pig sleep for a year.)
When we finally got to the store,
Missus McAllister was parked out front
and I was hoping that she would offer us a ride
back to our road after we’d bought our cokes.
But we never did get a chance to ask her,
cause she just sat there in her car –
without ever getting out to go inside.
Patsy Cline was singing loud over the car radio
all about how she went Walking After Midnight.
Missus McAllister sang right along with Patsy –
sealed up tight behind the windows of that ice cold caddy

in the parking lot of Hudson's grocery store.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Quick, Scottie--how many dilithium crystals will you have to burn to beam us up out of here?

Although we didn't initially meet on the job, for many years my friend Tawana and I worked for the same organization. We were small but very important cogs in a highly complicated machine.

Since then, we've both gone on to bigger and better things--although her things are a little bigger and a little better than mine. She flies on the company jet; she keeps two households; she gets a mondo big yearly bonus. (Although I do get a fat and particularly juicy turkey at Thanksgiving and all the crochet instruction books I can eat.)

Surprisingly, there's no competition between us--instead, we bounce ideas off one another and contribute possible solutions to the other's professional dilemmas. I think I can even make a case for my advice being more helpful than hers--considering how successful my advice has made her. I wouldn't want her to know that I said so, but I sometimes believe that were it not for me and my occasional advice, Tawana would still be advising students to avoid Dr. Cunningham's class and take Atkins' instead; because the latter drinks and falls down and tends to cancel class a lot.

At any rate, after all these years, I pretty much know how she operates, and why she's as successful as she is.

Or so I thought.

Then last week she tells me, "Oh yeah. Whenever I have something I absolutely have to get wrapped up, I wait for 4pm on Friday to call the meeting. I call 'em in at 4, tell 'em what I need, and they agree to anything--I'm telling you, THEY'LL GIVE YOU THE WORLD just to get out of there."

Wow. All this time, I've had this image of Tawana, using her southern fried charm to make things happen all the way out there on the east coast. Instead, I discover that her business acumen is based almost entirely on the philosophy of hostage-negotiation.

And she may very well be the most hated woman in her entire company.

Which clears up a lot of things right there. So, yeah. If she worked for my company, I'd let her on the company jet. I'd give her the KEYS to the jet. As long as she was on it before 4pm on Friday afternoon.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Upon catching the sack as it is thrown without regard for my safety or the condition of my meal through the driver's side window. And--no spork.


I understand you're in a hurry, but are you aware that those two crunchy tacos and pintos with cheese make up the only meal I will eat today?

I am a big-deal publishing executive and I plan to drip those tacos onto all kinds of important reports, editorial copy, and contact sheets.

How well do you suppose you could you focus on studying your profit margins if your pintos and cheese were thrown into the bag upside down and all mixed up, or if the shells of your tacos were broken in half and spilling out most of their faux Mexican goodness?

And since you don't seem to have given it any thought, I can tell you that it is very difficult to eat a broken taco with only one hand. Very, very important people like myself can really only spare one hand with which to eat our drive-through food.

So, yes. I know there are many cars in line behind me and you have several hours left in your shift. But how about a little consideration here for a working girl?


Oh. And may I have some extra sauce?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Do you think maybe I'm no longer the center of her universe? And what universe do you suppose that might be?

Muffin Uptown is having interweb problems at her house. As in, she can't get any. So she came over Monday night to check her email, catch up on You Tube, that sort of thing.

"Hey!" I said, "You're the star of today's post!"

She looked at me blankly.

"Why?" she asked.

"Why? Uhhh...because you're Muffin Uptown?"

"Ohhhhh," she said, finally getting it. I'm pretty sure I could read disappointment all over her face. Yup. That's what it was, all right.

"I thought you meant the Washington Post."

Monday, July 9, 2007

Go home, Charlotte.

There was an altercation with a spider on Sunday; first a close call for me in bare feet, and then the burden of saving the family fell on the young, delicate shoulders of Muffin Uptown.

But, she's grown--independent, living on her own. She shops for and prepares her own food, pays the bills, sends home the revelers when the party winds down and it's time for sleep. She's had to deal with spiders, surely? No respecter of age or experience, those surly spiders must have made an appearance at her place by now--throwing their weight around, trying to bully her into giving them Cheetoes and beer.

I was barefooted and unarmed, so I hung back to let MU handle the situation. The spider--big, pissed-off, and hungry for girl-meat, faced off with my vulnerable baby girl. But there was steely resolve Muffin's eyes and an iron set to her jaw as she removed her shoe and stepped back another 24 inches--carefully putting space between her now-naked toes and the scene of certain slaughter.

She brought her shoe high and wide into the air at her shoulder and --swoosh-- DOWN onto the floor. Six full inches away from the spider. Terrified, the spider zig-zagged across the floor and ran beneath the door, over the threshold, and into the relative safety of the out-of-doors.

MU looked expectantly at me, waiting (I can only guess) to be praised.

"Well." I said, after a moment. "You might just as well have put your thumbs in your ears, waggled your fingers, and hollered boogada-boogada at it. All you did was scare it to death."

"Whatever gets the job done, Mom," she said, slid her foot back into her shoe, and went on about business.

My daughter. The spider whisperer.

photo by Zeeshan Qureshi.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Not just anybody can make that "Structure of the English Language" taste good, you know.

Dr. Earl Schrock, Jr. retires from Arkansas Tech University today after 36 years of service as faculty, Department Head, and Dean.

During that time he touched and changed the lives of many people, and I'm proud to be one of them.

This post will embarrass him and make him cry, and that's only fair; the thought of an ATU without him is breaking my heart.

You can send Dr. Schrock your best wishes at eschrockjr@atu.edu.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Me and my (pooch's) shadow.

I love myself a little Daily Candy. Several times a day (why so often? I have no idea) I get cleverly written emails from the kids over at DC, making sure I know what's hot and where to get it. Like these silhouette pictures by artist Karl Johnson, who can create cunning duplicates of your siblings, spouse, siamese, or schnauzer.

I also happen to be in a position to know that the folks at Leisure Arts have easy instructions for those of us who are game for trying it ourselves. Step-by-step downloadable instructions. I don't know about you, but for $1.99, I'll try anything once.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


God watches out for drunks, little children, and turtles.

Otherwise, the turtles would be extinct by now.

I don't know about the turtle population where you live, but those in my part of the world are some of the most reckless and foolhardy creatures on the face of the earth.

I accidentally killed one who ran under my wheels not long ago, and I'm not sure I'll ever get over it. Yesterday, I very nearly wrecked my car in an effort to avoid smashing one who was dashing harum-scarum across the highway.

Apparently, they live out their helter-skelter existence on the razor's edge--thoughtless and irresponsible daredevils with no care for anything but the pell-mell rush to get to the other side of the road.


How many peaceful lives must be shattered by this carelessness? For the love of God, turtle, please! Get out of the road!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Yeah, okay--it was dark AND stormy.

There's still time!

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest deadline for entries has been extended to July 15; winners will be announed on July 23. The infamous contest to find the world's worst opening line is now 25 years old.
The countdown had stalled at T minus 69 seconds when Desiree, the first female ape to go up in space, winked at me slyly and pouted her thick, rubbery lips unmistakably--the first of many such advances during what would prove to be the longest, and most memorable, space voyage of my career.
--Martha Simpson, Glastonbury, Connecticut (1985 Winner)

The bone-chilling scream split the warm summer night in two, the first half being before the scream when it was fairly balmy and calm and pleasant for those who hadn't heard the scream at all, but not calm or balmy or even very nice for those who did hear the scream, discounting the little period of time during the actual scream itself when your ears might have been hearing it but your brain wasn't reacting yet to let you know.
--Patricia E. Presutti, Lewiston, New York (1986 Winner)

Sultry it was and humid, but no whisper of air caused the plump, laden spears of golden grain to nod their burdened heads as they unheedingly awaited the cyclic rape of their gleaming treasure, while overhead the burning orb of luminescence ascended its ever-upward path toward a sweltering celestial apex, for although it is not in Kansas that our story takes place, it looks godawful like it.
--Judy Frazier, Lathrop, Missouri (1991 Winner)
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